Giants’ Martellus Bennett Is a Tight End Who Cuts Loose
1. His business card identifies him as Visionary Architect.
It is a hot Friday afternoon along the banks of the Hudson River. Bennett is eating ice cream at a patio table outside a Ben Jerry’s in West New York, N.J., a block from the water. He is trying to talk about football.
But there are two children, a boy and a girl, playing inside the ice cream shop. They are pressing their noses against the window and making faces. Bennett keeps twisting in his seat so he can wave and make faces back.
Finally, he gives up talking about how he expects to make magic on the field with Manning this season. He sticks out his tongue at the children one more time, turns back to the table and says, “Did you know I wrote a children’s book?”
No, he is told. What is it about?
This question excites Bennett. “It’s about a family of bees,” he says. “They’re called the Wannabees and the little one is named Marty B. Marty B.! It’s about how they have to move hives and it’s a little bit of a play on the Bible and some other stories, like … ”
Bennett’s wife, Siggi, softly interjects: “Like Goldilocks. But tell him what’s different.”
“Right,” Bennett says, leaning closer. “Here’s the thing: The pages? They’re blank. I want the kids to be able to draw what the characters look like however they imagine them.”
He pauses for a moment: “You see? It’s written by me, but illustrated by you.”
He sits back in his chair, hands raised triumphantly in the air. This happens a lot with Bennett. The title on his business card is supposed to reflect “the fact that I’m all about coming up with cool” stuff, Bennett says. His ideas flow nonstop. Sometimes he cannot sleep at night because he is thinking too much. “I keep a journal by my bed so I can just write it all down,” he says. “Then sometimes I write poetry.”
In addition to being a fifth-year N.F.L. player who left Dallas to join the Giants in March, he is involved in a project to develop a new social network (“It’s like Facebook but better”); working to expand his art portfolio, which includes large canvases (“I don’t like small things”); and polishing a novel that he likens to “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “Harry Potter.” “Honestly,” he says. “People might want to make the movie before they even publish the book.”
Bennett’s latest hope, though, is to create a design firm that does everything from collectibles to coffee tables. “I have an idea for a kids table that is round and has cup holders built in,” he said.
He envisions specializing in limited-edition items — perhaps 85 units at a time, since he wears No. 85 — and wants to have an office space that includes an “imagination lounge,” where people can feel free to just brainstorm.
“I believe in dreaming,” he says through a mouthful of ice cream.
2. He somehow turns a story about a childhood fight into a moment of silence for Bill Nye the Science Guy’s TV show.
Bennett was born in San Diego and moved to the Houston area after elementary school. As the new kid, he says, he was often a target for those looking to fight.
Once, a group of 10 boys challenged Bennett and his brother Michael, who now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bennetts had no choice but to “take off our shirts and go,” he says. His description of the scene — empty schoolyard, circle of adversaries around them — is compelling, but as Bennett begins to describe how the chaos unfolded (“It was like a Royal Rumble or something”), he is stopped by a friend coming over to the table to say hello to Siggi.